Prisoner hunger strike begins again Monday

Abolish the SHU
On Monday, September 26, 2011 prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) have declared they will resume their hunger strike.

As we watch the horror of the execution of Troy Anthony Davis in Georgia , where the U.S. Supreme Court and the President refused to act to stop a towering crime, who will now step out to fight to change the entire direction of society and the world, and stop the cruel torture regime inflicted on prisoners across the U.S.?

The resumption of the hunger strike is an extremely significant and extraordinary development. Many inmates put their health and lives on the line; many came close to death and experienced medical emergencies in July 2011. Millions of people outside the prison walls in the U.S. and worldwide learned about the tortuous conditions these prisoners face and thousands supported the demands of the prisoners in diverse ways.

Now the hunger strike of prisoners is set to resume Monday, September 26. What are the prisoner demands? To be treated as human beings; to end barbaric, inhumane conditions of imprisonment – particularly the SHU’s -- and to stop long term solitary confinement as a form of torture. (5 core demands listed below.)

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is not only refusing to meet the prisoner’s demands, it is retaliating against those who participated in the hunger strike and mounting a public relations campaign to defend the barbaric conditions in the SHU.

We have a moral responsibility to act in a way commensurate with the justness of the prisoners’ demands and the urgency of the situation. A determined movement outside the walls of prison is urgently needed to expose and demand an end to these high-tech torture chambers called “SHU’s”. We aim to break into the media with this action!

Think about everything that makes you human… that keeps you physically and mentally alive… that connects you with the world and other people… that gives you a reason to live, to love, to learn and think…. All this is what the SHU tries to extinguish. In the SHU you’re locked up in a small, windowless concrete cell 23 hours a day, with minimum human contact and maximum sensory deprivation. Human rights groups in the U.S and internationally have documented the inhumane conditions – these are crimes against humanity. And the fact is tens of thousands of prisoners across the U.S. are being held in the kind of barbarous conditions the prisoners as Pelican Bay have so courageously rebelled against. We need to build massive political resistance to the injustice of mass incarceration – the outrage of its leading edge targeting oppressed nationality people -- and the inhumanity of solitary confinement. Step out on Monday, September 26 and make a difference!

For information on long term solitary confinement and the SHU program, the hunger strike, and to get to support websites click here.

Hunger Strike to Resume September 26 – Support the Just Demands of the Pelican Bay Prisoners, Bay Area Revolution Writers Group, September 25, 2011

Barbarous Confinement, Op-Ed, by Colin Dayan, a professor of English at Vanderbuilt University , New York Times, July 17, 2011

Tortured SHU prisoners speak out: The struggle continues, hunger strike resumes Sept. 26; by Pelican Bay Prison SHU hunger strike representatives

Over 10,000 people have signed the petition to Support Pelican Bay SHU Prisoners’ Five Core Demands (hunger strike)

Statements in Support of Prison Hunger Strikers, including ACLU, Cornel West, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Edward Asner, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and others

Basic Core Demands From Pelican Bay Prisoners
(Security Housing Unit)

1. Eliminate group punishments. Instead, practice individual accountability. When an individual prisoner breaks a rule, the prison often punishes a whole group of prisoners of the same race. This policy has been applied to keep prisoners in the SHU indefinitely and to make conditions increasingly harsh.

2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Prisoners are accused of being active or inactive participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, and are then sent to long-term isolation (SHU). They can escape these tortuous conditions only if they "debrief," that is, provide information on gang activity. Debriefing produces false information (wrongly landing other prisoners in SHU, in an endless cycle) and can endanger the lives of debriefing prisoners and their families.

3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement. This bipartisan commission specifically recommended to "make segregation a last resort" and "end conditions of isolation." Yet as of May 18, 2011 , California kept 3,259 prisoners in SHUs and hundreds more in Administrative Segregation
waiting for a SHU cell to open up. Some prisoners have been kept in isolation for more than thirty years.

4. Provide adequate food. Prisoners report unsanitary conditions and small quantities of food that do not conform to prison regulations. There is no accountability or independent quality control of meals.

5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. The hunger strikers are pressing for opportunities “to engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities..." Currently these opportunities are routinely denied, even if the prisoners want to pay for correspondence courses themselves. Examples of privileges the prisoners want are: one phone call per week, and permission to have sweatsuits and watch caps. (Often warm clothing is denied, though the cells and exercise cage can be bitterly cold.) All of the privileges mentioned in the demands are already allowed at other SuperMax prisons (in the federal prison system and other states).

Events in support of the hunger strikers:

Mon September 26, 3:30pm
Panel in Support of the Prison Hunger Strike
UC Hastings B. Mayer Lounge, 198 McAllister St, San Francisco.
Speakers: legal professionals, activists, former inmates, family members of SHU prisoners.

Tues September 27, 5pm
Emergency March and Rally, Civic Center, S.F.

Tues September 27, 7pm
Discussion - "Support the Hunger Strike! Who are the Real Criminals?"
Revolution Books, Berkeley
2425 Channing - 510.848.1196

Weds September 28, 11-1pm
Protest at CDCR Headquarters - Sacramento
(carpool from W. Oak BART 9:30am sharp)

Thurs September 29, 5pm
Vigil - 14th and Broadway, Oakland

Sat-Sun, October 1-2
Caravan to Pelican Bay to support prisoners
call for details 510-926-5207

Troy Davis, Police Murder, Mass Incarceration, Torture -
The WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM is Guilty!

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